Musically, the album is also very diverse with soulful singing, light, jazzy sounds, hard-core lyrics, soft and sincere words, powerful verses, piano and even club-like joints. I have to say something about the phenomenal back-up singers—sign these ladies up now because they can SING man! These female singers can be heard on, “Dangerous” where you get a Destiny’s Child feel and not to mention the main verse from Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison”. “dangerous” was slammin’ without question, but how about, “i mean…love” where you get the vocalist belting out notes, Mariah Carey-style! Not saying that she sings better than or the same as Mariah Carey by any means because Mariah is in a league of her own, but the style is definitely right on and equally impressive. And finally, I felt a real soulful sensation when listening to one of the singers on the track, “on my own”.
The cut that really hit me the most inside came by way of Bugzy’s lyrics on “footprints”. Bogart is heard rappin’ his heart out to God and then even mimicking God’s voice through a pretend dialogue. It’s about all the problems on God’s Green Earth and how God addresses them as MAN being the cause of all things sinfully bad and wrong on this soil. The song really makes sense and offers a very powerful viewpoint on God, religion and man. Bugzy Bogart even preaches to his son at the end, very emotional and a very direct song that could raise some eyebrows.
Check out this guy that sounds like a mob character from Dick Tracy, but offers the art of TRUE-LIFE Rap to listeners. For anyone willing to listen to “ninety-four”, Bugzy Bogart and Culture VI are preaching loud and clear. For more info, SKOPE out www.CultureVI.com.
Words By: Jimmy Rae
The first thing I notice about the album was the cadence of Mr. Bogart. Rapping with a particular sense of urgency that demands attention, Bogart glides over some melodic production with insightful punch lines that leaving you thinking. In an autobiographical fashion, Bugzy spills lyrics that describes everything from his love life to living in a post 9/11 world. Tracks such as "I mean…Love" display a very deep side of Bogart who isn't afraid to say how he really feels. Coupled with the beautiful voice of Meylin, who is featured throughout the project, the hypnotic yet soothing piano riffs will leave the listener captivated.
Even though the majority of the album is filled with soulful and deep content, Bogart isn't afraid to make the occasional hardcore street banger. On "If Ya'll Don't" Bogart delivers a huge middle finger to all the haters and doubters out there over some head knocking productions of dramatic orchestral hits and brooding synths. On "Dangerous" featuring Joe Budden and Meylin, Budden and Bogart trade lyrics over a flipped version of the famous Bel Biv Devoe song "Poison". The production is surprisingly refreshing on this track as the song leaves a nostalgic residue behind while looking forward to the future. Perhaps the best overall song on the album, "A Name in the credits" closes out the album with epic production that acts as the swan song for the album. Bogart effortlessly glides through this song as he continues on his quest to reach for the stars.
While overall the album is a very well put together project, the heaviness of Bogart's lyrics can deter the average mainstream hip hop head. Tracks like "Perspective" break the mold of conventional hip hop, as Bogart lasers his way through the upbeat tempo, he provides a very dark perspective about his mother's death from cancer as well as other topics of very personal subject matter.
Overall, this is a very solid release. Featuring a slew of some Hip Hop's best lyricists including Royce da 5'9, Wordsworth and Joe Budden, this album will please those looking for insightful wordplay, great soulful and dark beats and passionate insight. Although I would like to hear Bogart come with a few more of those grimey street bangers to please the hardcore hip hop heads, this a good album to put on and blaze a spliff to while pondering society's woes.
3.8 out of 5
â€˜The Legacyâ€™ was the intro to the album. It has somewhat of a mixtape feel; from the beat production, to the background hype. It went from one MC to another; as fast as lighting; but worked perfectly. While you are still processing the lyrics of the previous MC, you are already being hit again by the next performance delivery. This early in the album, I found myself beyond impressed with the diverse styles that each MC offered to this collective/label. Every performance delivery was packed with talented flow; and notable lyrics; it would be impossible to pick a favorite. This was a great way to start an album off; and intro that could easily get just as many spins as any other track on the album.
â€˜Fully Loadedâ€™ came in with grimy beat production and instrumentation, that packed punch behind it. The lyricism was upscale; packed with punch lines; and the performance deliveries matched the strength of the beat production. It was a good combination of both elements. I was pleased with the skills of each and every MC on this track; and the transition between their verses, worked to the benefit of the overall song. This was a good track, and worth listening to again.
â€˜Frontlineâ€™ dropped in quickly with both the beat production and the first performance delivery, instantaneously. The beat production had an upbeat symphonic sound; and the performance delivery was just as aggressive. The lyricism was punch line after punch line; and the combination of MCâ€™s, was once again flawless. This collective is, obviously, mastersâ€™ of collaboration. Even with a large number of talents; it was too hard to pick; any particular stand out performance. The chorus was very fitting to the track; and set itself apart; as unique, from the verses in the track. This track will get regular spins by fans of hip-hop.
â€˜Footprintsâ€™ began with a very appealing beat production; beautiful vocalism; and overall harmony, provided by Yendi. The lyricism offered a very deep meaning; and thought provoking story line; with topics of faith and every day lifeâ€™s struggles. The track even went so far as, offering a different outlook, to every downside. The chorus was a touch of perfection to the track, and made it all that much more appealing. This track is definitely worth listening to; listening closely; and understanding.
â€˜Roman Empireâ€™ has a very punchy beat production; that leaves no room, for losing interest. The shift between MCâ€™s; once again; doesnâ€™t have an imperfection; and keeps the track in a continuous flow of talented lyricists. Everything about this track was appealing; from the beat; lyrics; and the breakdowns. This track will now officially be in regular rotation; in my personal play list; and most likely will be in yours, as well.
â€˜Up In Smokeâ€™ came in with an MC offering conversational delivery to the audience; and then dropped in with unforgettable beat production; and performance delivery. The performance delivery captures the emotion of the chaotic thoughts being translated lyrically; and then halfway through the track; the mood, performance delivery, and beat production; calms down; and takes a different direction. The transition of the breakdowns was a pure form of both; genius and talent; combined with good hip-hop music. It picks back up at the end; and leaves you with that feeling; knowing that you will without a doubt, play this track again.
â€˜Impact Of Plaguesâ€™; after a very brief intro; came in with memorable beat production; that demands your full attention, immediately. The verses were as cold as ice; and the lyricism was amazing; in addition to the bold performance delivery on each verse. The chorus worked well; although could have been stronger; and more fitting to the strong performance delivery on the verses. The chorus didnâ€™t hurt the track a bit; but could have been done differently to the tracksâ€™ advantage. Without a doubt; up until this point in the album; this was one of the stands out tracks; I just noticed that small margin for improvement; that would have made the song 110% to me; but I can live with the existing chorus. I will listen to this track, regularly.
â€˜Apocalypse Nowâ€™ came in with solid beat production and performance delivery. The lyricism was extremely distinguished; and this track was prominent; in comparison to the tracks that had led up to it. Although the overall album; is very difficult to compare; from track to track; due to the wide versatility between tracks; this track was one of my favorites. The chorus was completely hypnotic; and appealing to all hip-hop senses; and makes the track two times memorable. This was without question, a highlight track.
â€˜Power Of The Excellenceâ€™ came in with a powerful building introduction; and then the beat production dropped in with a more mellow beat production; offering a completely different vibe; that set the track off even more. The beat production was extraordinary and would keep my attention; even without, the superiority of the faultless lyricism; and unyielding performance delivery. Excellent, I plan on listening to this track again; and so will you.
â€˜Authentic Tributeâ€™ offers a personal insight to the MC; through amazing lyricism; and exquisite beat production, to match the mood. Tracks like this are easy to relate to; and easy to understand the topic; and present you an appreciation for the MC as a person. The chorus; was laced by Yendi; as well as her striking back-up vocalism. This is one of my preferred tracks on the album; and made me an official fan of the MC, Brolik. I plan on returning to this track for listens, often.
â€˜Oh Shit!â€™ offered the audience; raw performance deliveries; and uplifting beat production. This is how hip-hop and the streets are supposed to be represented. The chorus fit the beat and vibe; but was weak; in comparison to the verses; it could have much stronger; and in return would have put this track, over the top. The breakdowns and switches in the beat production were both, outstanding and genius. This is yet another track that makes this album an official underground classic; with the means of being bigger; and definitely worth every minute of your time.
â€˜Put Upâ€™ came in rock-solid from the jump off. The lyricism was hot in a major way; and the performance delivery was beyond nice. Yendi blessed this track with a breathtaking chorus, and back-up vocalism. Over half way through the album; I have liked every track; and have had a difficult time deciding which tracks stood out the most. This was one of those tracks; and I plan to giving it a listen again, several times over.
â€˜Hystschoolâ€™ was unbreakable from the gate. It had so many hypnotic qualities; in every aspect of the music; vocal recordings; and mix. The lyricism was imaginative and inspired. I am a permanent fan of Hystwise. This song has obviously been well thought out; and was done to perfection; and needs to be heard by a much larger audience; than it has been thus far. Do yourself a favor; buy the album; and hear this track.
â€˜Awakenâ€™ had a totally different style and sound than the other tracks on the album had; and due to that; it made this track more appealing for itâ€™s distinctive presence. The lyricism had a story telling aspect; and had me involved from start to finish. With the topic of betrayal between family/crew; and was delivered in a way; that made the track believable; and unforgettable. This was a track worth listening to; and is worth itsâ€™ weight in gold. I could listen to this track religiously.
â€˜I Stillâ€¦.â€™ had guitar heavy production; and added to the versatility of the entire album. The lyricism worked well; with the different rock/hip-hop style of production; and the track offered a wide variety of performance deliveries; between the assortments of talented MCâ€™s. This was a noteworthy track; and worth another listen.
â€˜Duck Downâ€™ was drum tight from the first drop; and came in with serious beat production. The lyricism was admirable and was fitting to the beat production. The performance delivery was swift; and worthy of notice. The chorus was perfect for the track; and fit perfectly in with the rest of the song. This track had an overall forceful emotion; about it; and was memorable enough, to make me want to listen again.
â€˜Poisoned Fetusâ€™ had one of the deepest topics off the entire album. The lyricism didnâ€™t disappoint this fact in the least bit; and actually did the topic justice. The beat production had a laid back vibe; that will make you think about life; and the truth within it. The lyricism will do that; plus more. This story rhyme rap; and intensive plot; is something you will have to hear for yourself; over and over again.
Culture VI â€œEliteâ€쳌
If the sheer number of members intimidates you, "Legacy" is your best chance to soak them all in. Each MC's name is called out as they proceed to drop two bars over a familiar sample, previously used by Immortal Technique on "Peruvian Cocaine" among others. "Frontline" is the other track to showcase the entire Hip roster, with the exception of Yendi. Unfortunately it highlights one problem with CVI, which is that the balance of talent obviously sways towards certain artists. I won't single anyone out, but everyone is bound to have favorites. Notable group tracks include the drug influenced "Up In Smoke" by R.E.U. and Clowd9yne, as Clowd kills the violin sample dug up by YZ and Bugzy, plus the Reservoir Dogs-like "Awaken", as they discuss how a simple robbery went wrong. Hystwise and Juganot steal the show on "Oh Shit" over YZ's head-bopping production.
Despite having 12 artists fighting for their chance to shine, there are no shortage of solo tracks. On "Poisoned Fetus", Radius seems to be channelling Nas vocally. It's a well-written joint about a couple that abuses drugs during pregnancy, resulting in another messed up life. Bugzy Bogart is essentially the unofficial leader of the group, and on "Footprints" he collaborates with CVI's female vocalist, Yendi. The track unravels as a dialogue between himself and God, as he wonders why there's so much negativity in the world. Yendi also provides the hook on Brolik' s "Authentic Tribute", another personal track where he explains how the pain of family tragedy sobered him up. R.E.U. rips "Power of the Excellence", but the mayhem of Juganot's "Apocalypse Now" is one of the weaker solo performances. Also worth mentioning are Clowd9yne and Hystwise, who also shine in the spotlight with "Put Up" and "Hystschool" respectively.
Elite is proof that even a group of relative strangers can exhibit chemistry with time and patience. As well put together as the album is, CVI would benefit from dropping a few of the members who I consider dead weight. When you have artists like Hystwise, Clowd, R.E.U., Radius and others, less talented members just take away from the vibe. I'd also like to give them credit for putting thought and originality into the LP, even though a lot of the members were obviously influenced by different mainstream icons. Elite is a surprisingly dope debut from a little known group, which is likely to spawn a number of solo artists worthy of keeping your eyes on.
as reviewed by John Book
Any form of music has its highs and lows, and sometimes when you listen to a lot of low quality music, you wonder if there will be anyone to come to the rescue. Culture VI is a very refreshing album that shows a sense of hunger that will give any pessimist hope.
The statement on the back of the CD says "Hip-Hop History Starts Now" and anyone who can be so bold should definitely be prepared for ridicule. But Culture VI, a 12-member collective from Elmhurst, New York, will not have a hard time proving the reason behind their musical missions. "Elite" sounds cocky, but the 17 songs on this CD may prove them right. Musically they are all about the keyboards and synths, with the occasional addicting sample, but that's where the comparison to a lot of today's hip-hop ends. The power in the music is complimented by their powerful lyrics and flows, distinctive and different enough to bring back memories of the first time one heard the Wu-Tang Clan or Derelect Camp.
But even those comparisons aren't appropriate, because some might think they're trying to be like the Wu. Not at all. What does stand out is the "family vibe" that a few crews have, and this is why Culture VI works. The production is very nice, most of it produced by YZ (not the same YZ of "Man With The Master Plan" fame). One of the best songs, "The Legacy", introduces most of the people in Culture VI, but I wished the instrumental had a bit more punch as it sounds like it lacks a bit of bass and a snappy snare. As for the rest of the album, they take you into their world and mess up your head until they're damn ready to get you out. One of the best tracks is "Apocalypse Now", featuring a rapper by the name of Juganot. The soul vocal sample at the beginning is definitely a play on The Doors' "The End", but once that fades, Juganots venom begins to sink in:
"I was conceived by a superpower who ruled the world with an iron fist
I was discovered by a world reknown scientist
And the plan was to reduce the population of man
By creating some type of internal assassin
Blastin' flesh with guns wasn't enough
Not everybody carries burners but everybody fucks
Big bucks invested for this sick, twisted
Demented plan so diabolical
Forget about guns, make the weapon biological
And blame it on niggas in Africa fucking the animals
And spread it through the media, there's never been a seedier
Scheme since genocide of sickle cell anemia
Dreamin' of a way to slay large quantities"
From exploring the possibility of what faces us to what faces us in closer circles, "Authentic Tribute" takes a passionate look at the concept of family and what keeps many of us going even when things seem to fail on a regular basis.
What I like about the music on this is that it's very anthemic, filled with loads of motion picture incidental tracks that definitely help add a visual to each of these songs. Lyrically, each of these guys are ruthless and raw, yet well-controlled. It could have easily slipped into something mediocre, but that world should not be mentioned alongside the Culture VI name. "Up in Smoke" may appear to be some kind of hazy Cheech & Chong tribute until you start playing the song, and becomes something more meaningful.
Culture VI are more than ready to be on a major label, but I'm almost afraid to say that in case they may lose the hunger each of them present on the album. One hopes they may be able to take over the scene from the inside out.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10